Manzanar National Historic Site is honored to host author/entertainer Kinji Inomata for its 2020 Day of Remembrance program at 1:00 pm, Saturday, February 22, 2020. Organizations and communities across the country host Day of Remembrance events to mark the anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. While never specifically mentioning Japanese Americans, the executive order allowed the US Army to forcibly round-up and incarcerate more than 110,000 Japanese Americans—two-thirds of whom were US citizens—in Manzanar and nine similar camps around the United States.
Kinji Inomata’s family experience was the exception. Kinji’s talk Taming Prejudice and Defeating Executive Order 9066 will highlight the story of his grandfather Kenji Inomata, the only known Issei (first generation immigrant from Japan) to remain officially free on the West Coast during World War II.
The elder Inomata illegally entered the United States through New York Harbor in the late 1800s. He went on to serve as a steward in the US Navy for nearly thirty years. Despite federal laws forbidding Asian immigrants from becoming US citizens, he naturalized in 1919.
In 1935, Inomata, his Creole wife Genevieve, and their children moved from Florida to Los Angeles to escape the prejudice of the South, only to face different prejudices in the West.
Kinji Inomata has captured his family’s experiences in his book Pure Winds, Bright Moon: The Untold Story of the Stately Steward and his Hapa Family Beautiful. The book highlights 125 years of twists and turns in the lives of the Inomata family. The Smithsonian recently accessioned his book into its National Museum of American History.
Kinji Inomata is also a Polynesian entertainer and will perform a few songs. The program is free and open to all. Manzanar’s non-profit partner, Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, will host a book signing with Kinji Inomata after his talk. Proceeds will benefit programs and projects at Manzanar National Historic Site. The site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine, California. Learn more on our web site at https://www.nps.gov/manz or on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.